by Dan Lacovara and Wayne Lewis
A pre-eminent City of Hope biologist and two patients who received treatment through his clinical trials appeared at City of Hope’s recent Desert Community Forum. Part of the organization’s outreach to the gay and lesbian community in Palm Springs, Calif., the event highlighted innovative gene therapy treatments for HIV/AIDS.
An audience of about 150 attended the first HIV/AIDS Desert Community Forum, held Dec. 4, 2008, at Palm Springs’ Hotel Zoso. John J. Rossi, Ph.D., Lidow Family Research Chair and chair of the Department of Molecular Biology, was the featured speaker.
|Loring Leeds (Photo by Bill Rich)|
He was joined by patient speaker Loring Leeds, who originally sought treatment for AIDS-related lymphoma at City of Hope 10 years ago, and by another HIV-positive patient who recently underwent a bone marrow transplant. The evening’s host was Brian Wanzek, a wellknown cabaret performer in Palm Springs.
Rossi, dean of City of Hope’s Graduate School of Biological Sciences, leads innovative studies of therapies that have the potential to cure HIV and AIDS. He and his colleagues harness RNA — a form of genetic material — to protect patients from the virus, a technique that may lead to a future drug-free treatment for HIV. The gene therapy is delivered to patients through engineered stem cells in hematopoietic cell transplantation.
The forum was co-sponsored by Hotel Zoso and promoted by leaders of Palm Springs’ gay and lesbian community.